Dr. Doni explains how fluctuating blood sugar levels can lead to fatigue, headaches, nausea, grumpiness, lightheadedness, sleep issues and mood changes, and gives five tips to help.
Even if you don’t have a diagnosis of hypoglycemia or diabetes, you might be experiencing blood sugar fluctuations that are making you not feel so well, perhaps everyday.
That is what I refer to as the “sugar roller coaster.” I find that often the first step to feeling better is to get yourself off the roller coaster. I have 5 tips for you, but first a little more explanation.
I remember an experiment I did when I was a nutrition and pre-med student at Oregon State University (1992). We had to drink orange juice and then monitor our blood sugar levels over the next 4 hours. It was striking to me to observe glucose (blood sugar) and insulin (the hormone that ushers glucose into cells where it is used as energy) increasing and then decreasing over several hours.
And then to correlate these shifts with the way a person feels. When blood sugar levels rise, a person is more likely to feel energized at first, then fatigued, but when the levels fall, headaches, mood changes and nausea set in.
This is something our bodies do all day, every day. Glucose up, glucose down. Our brains depend on it! Yet if we have too much glucose at any one time, from an over-consumption of sugar or carbohydrates, insulin is not able to move it all into cells and our liver has to improvise and do something with it, even if that means storing it on your hips or as cholesterol.
That is right! Sugar and starch are made of glucose, and what doesn’t get used by your cells soon after you eat it is converted to cholesterol and fat. Learn more here.
So while that Frappuccino looks awfully yummy, I encourage you to think twice—because what goes in, must get processed one way or another.
Now for the tips for balancing your blood sugar levels…
Dr. Doni’s 5 tips for Getting off the Sugar Roller Coaster:
- Choose green tea instead of a sugar-filled pick-me-up drink
- Eat 1/2 sized-meals (that way you get 1/2 the carbs at each sitting)
- Eat every 2-4 hours (which is exactly the frequency that your body needs glucose)
- Always eat healthy protein and fat with your carbs (aim for 40% protein, 40% carbs and 20% fat)
- Exercise (10 minutes cardio and 10 minutes strength training) 3-5 times per week
I encourage you to start by:
- Set an alarm on your phone to go off every 3 hours, so you can start to get a sense of how frequently to eat.
- Eat 1/2 the food on your plate, and put the rest in the fridge for 3 hours later.
- Ask yourself “where is the protein?” every time you sit down to eat.
- Try green tea (best organic) every chance you get.
- Start moving your body, even if it is 5 minutes each day.
Soon (most patients report a shift for the better within 24-48 hours) you will be in touch with your inner sugar coaster and much more likely to make choices that keep your feet on the ground and your health for the future.
I look forward to hearing what you notice as you implement these steps.